Saudi Intelligence possibly implicated in Yemen Defense Ministry Attack

Most of the gunmen who carried out a brazen attack against the Yemeni Ministry of Defense that killed 56 people were Saudi nationals, said Yemeni investigators on Saturday morning. 

The Yemeni investigator’s preliminary report about the attack supports previous claims of responsibility by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which was established through the merging of Saudi and Jemeni ”jihadist” networks, and which according to experts is operating in liaison with the Saudi Interior Ministry and Saudi Arabia’s Intelligence Service.

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On Friday, the AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack, justifying it by stressing the claim that the Defense Ministry’s complex hosted US personnel which are responsible for the drone strikes against Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen.

Considering that the AQAP operates in liaison with Saudi intelligence however, it is noteworthy that the Yemeni government, including its Defense Minister, recently and repeatedly have demanded that the USA stops its drone attacks, stressing that the attacks kill unarmed civilians, create more militants than they kill, and are counterproductive with regards to the security operations carried out by the military and police of Yemen.

The investigators report that the attack on the Defense Ministry in Yemen’s capital Sanaa was initiated when a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into the gate of the Ministry’s complex, penetrating the gate and exploding the explosives-laden vehicle a split second later. The gunmen, dressed in military fatigues, then used the ensuing panic and confusion to storm the Ministry.

The brazen daylight attack in the middle of the sprawling capital has cost 56 lives. After Yemeni military forces regained control over the ministry, they said, that they had recovered the bodies of twelve of the attackers who were slain during the attack.

It was a hospital within the Ministry compound that took the brunt of the attack. Among the 56 dead are medics from Germany, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam, as well as civilian and military patients, said a spokesperson for Yemen’s Supreme Security Committee.

The Yemeni analyst and expert in Al-Qaeda affairs, Saed al-Jamhi, said that the attack reflects “the level of the network’s penetration into security and military services” showing that the militants have “access to high level information”. Also al-Jamhi’s assessment supports other expert assessments, according to which the AQAP is operating in liaison with Saudi intelligence services and thus has access to high-level intelligence.

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